World Languages Program

We believe that all students should have the opportunity to learn a new language. We will provide students with a well-articulated sequenced program that develops increasing levels of proficiency and cultural awareness. Through the use of authentic materials and cross-cultural opportunities, students will acquire the skills to participate in an increasingly global community.

Department Contact

Phone: (617) 993-5950 

email: Marie Penner-Hahn, Director of World Languages

Faculty Listing is here

The world languages program of the Belmont Public Schools begins at the Chenery Middle School. The languages offered are:

  • French
  • Latin
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Spanish

Students select one of the offered languages to study for grades six through eight. At Belmont High School students can continue studying the same language or begin a new language. Students are required to complete two years of foreign language study for graduation, however we encourage students to study a foreign language throughout their four years at Belmont High School. We offer Advanced Placement courses in all four languages.

Belmont HIgh School Program of Studies

Purpose and Objectives

The world languages curriculum is aligned with the Massachusetts State Frameworks and the National Foreign Language Standards. The overarching objective for all world languages curricula is linguistic and cultural proficiency. These are the enduring understandings that guide our work:

  • Culture is the products, practices and perspectives of a group of people. 
  • Language is a vehicle for culture and reflects a culture's norms and mores. 
  • Language and culture evolve over time. 
  • Our language and culture influence the way we see the world. 
  • Studying other languages and cultures broadens our perspective on our own culture and the world.

In all classes, language is taught in a communicative context, and from the earliest levels students apply what they learn to read, write, speak and listen in the target language. For students of Latin the emphasis is on using the language to read, translate and understand authentic texts in Latin.

All beginning language courses are college preparatory. The 2nd through 5th year courses in French and Spanish are offered at both the college preparatory and the honors level. In Chinese and Latin we offer college preparatory and honors for the 2nd and 3rd year courses. Both college preparatory and honors levels are rigorous courses in which students learn both language and culture. The difference is that the honors courses advance at a faster pace and students are expected to apply newly-learned language structures immediately. 

Advanced Levels and Travel Programs

For students in the advanced levels of all languages, Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish there are opportunities to travel and be immersed in the language. The students of Chinese may participate in a trip to China, which includes visits to Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai. French students travel to Paris and surrounding cities. Spanish students travel to Madrid and Barcelona. The trips for the three modern languages provide students with an amazing immersion experience so that they can use in authentic contexts the language they have studied for years. For Latin students there is a trip to Italy to study in situ Roman buildings, ruins and art.